October 20, 2008 While the unicycle could never be accused of being the most practical form of transport, one or two designs that have emerged in recent years (like the Unomoto and Bombadier's Embrio concept) have identified the potential of combining self-balancing technology with a format that is, well, inherently unbalanced. Known as the electric self-balancing unicycle or SBU, this new incarnation from Focus Designs makes the challenge 50% easier by incorporating a system of accelerometers and gyroscopes to control the forward and backward balance, leaving the rider to concentrate mainly on sideways movement. The other big difference from the traditional design is that there are no pedals or crank arms, just footrests to help balance while you glide along at up to 8mph while controlling speed by leaning forward and backwards.
According to Focus Designs it takes about two hours of practice before the average punter can master the SBU and there is an in-built warning sensor that alerts you when you are pushing too hard.
The electric motor is good for around 12 miles, or 1.5 hours on a single charge and despite the fact that you still run the risk of ending up face down on the pavement, the SBU does boast a much smaller footprint than its two-wheeled cousins and at under 25lbs (11.2kg) it's still light enough to carry with you on the train.
If you're really looking to stand out from the crowd at the bike shelter you can get your hands on the SBU in November at a cost of USD$1500 - however only 10 will be produced in this first run.
See Focus Designs for more info.